More Space in Austin for Hospitalized Virus Patients

State health officials reported 13,935 patients hospitalized statewide Saturday, 14 more than Friday.

NBC 5 News

Health officials in Austin and Travis County announced Saturday plans to open space in the Austin Convention Center for COVID-19 patients as hospitalizations in Texas set a record high for the 13th consecutive day.

State health officials reported 13,935 patients hospitalized statewide, 14 more than Friday.

The Alternate Care Site in Austin was initially established during a summer surge of the coronavirus, but has not yet taken patients, according to a statement from the Austin-Travis County Health Authority.

"Activating the Alternate Care Site means that we believe that it is inevitable that the healthcare system in Central Texas will exceed capacity and will soon be overwhelmed," said Dr. Jason Pickett, deputy medical director of the health authority.

The site is for patients who do not need high-level or intensive care, according to the statement. Patients needing high-level or intensive care will remain at hospitals.

As of Saturday, there have been more than 1.9 million virus cases in Texas and 29,691 deaths since the pandemic began.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases in Texas has risen from 14,553.7 per day on Dec. 25 to 20,396.8, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and the average positivity increased from 14.18% to 20.88%.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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